NBA Report: Shaq, Howard should play nice

Feuds are good for the NBA. Well, usually. But it’s painful to hear retired players insulting, or downright trashing, greats of today.

That’s what is taking place with the Lakers, as Shaquille O’Neal spoke his mind about Dwight Howard again — and Howard again defended himself.

Of course, this is all being blown out of proportion a little, as all O’Neal really said was he feels Andrew Bynum and Brook Lopez are more traditional centers than Howard. Note that O’Neal didn’t say “better.” He just said “more traditional.”

Either way, it wasn’t meant as a compliment, resulting in a harsh retort from Howard.

“I don’t care what Shaq says,” Howard told L.A. reporters Thursday. “Shaq played the game; he’s done. He’s done. It’s time to move on. He hated the fact that when he played, the older guys were talking about him and how he played. And now he’s doing the exact same thing. Just let it go.”

As everyone knows, O’Neal manned the middle for the Lakers during their three straight championship runs a decade ago. He often referred to himself as “the CEO” of those teams — which, of course, led to the clashes with Kobe Bryant.

Now, Howard is the Lakers’ big man with the big name (and big game), and a big reason they’re expected to compete for another title, maybe even to win it.

“There’s no sense for him to be talking trash to me,” Howard said. “He did his thing in the league. He was one of the most dominant players to ever play the game. Sit back and relax. You did yours. Your time is up. So I don’t really care. He can say whatever he wants to say.”

This isn’t O’Neal’s first jab at Howard. When O’Neal played for the Cavaliers, he told reporters he’s the “real Superman,” in reference to Howard’s occasional imitations of the comic book superhero. O’Neal then went out and played perhaps his best game with Cleveland.

When Howard was traded to the Lakers in August, O’Neal analyzed the situation this way: “You have to care to have a reaction. I’ve got businesses to run. I always tell people that in order to step in my shoes, you have big shoes to fill. For him, he’s going to have to at least win three to get people’s respect.”

Shaq is probably right. Howard needs to win, and a lot. Otherwise, the experiment will have failed. That’s just the way it goes with the Lakers. They expect championships.

But that doesn’t mean O’Neal has to keep bringing it up. Just sit back and relax, Shaq. You did yours, and we respect that. But nobody has to hate Howard to love you.


• There’s something to be said for the Pacers’ stability. For instance, coach Frank Vogel is likely to keep his starting unit from last season intact, reports Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star. “We’ve got a good mix in terms of our front five,” said forward David West. “We’re comfortable with one another. That’s something we’re going to rely and depend on throughout the year.”

• The additions of Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood and No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are all reasons the Bobcats don’t expect to be pushovers anymore. But they aren’t the only reasons. They also plan to take on a more physical approach as a team. “You’ve got to have that attitude or we’ll just get run over like we were last year,” guard Gerald Henderson told the Charlotte Observer. “To come up from where we were at, you’ve got to dig, you’ve got to fight. That’s the only way.”

• With Eric Gordon returning and lottery picks Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers in the fold, folks around the league seem to think the Hornets could be a sleeper, a team that’s at its best in the season’s second half. So far, coach Monty Williams likes what he’s seen from Davis, Rivers and even second-round pick Darius Miller. “I’m a bit surprised, but we’ll see more as we start to play games,” Williams told the Times-Picayune. “The intensity is there and sometimes that can cover up things on the floor.”

Follow Sam Amico on Twitter @SamAmicoFSO